Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The grand plan

Bill Clinton's latest attempt at bridge-building between Muslims and the West produced this blubberance:
"So now what are we going to do? ... Replace the anti-Semitic prejudice with anti-Islamic prejudice?" he said at an economic conference in the Qatari capital of Doha.
I can almost imagine him saying it--can't we all just...get along?

Not really. Just ask the Palestinians.

I haven't spent much time thinking about Bill and that's a testimony to his ex-presidency, which has been fairly decent so far. I'm wondering if that's about to change.

For example, his trying to compare a group of people with a history like the Jews to a group who believe those same Jews should be pushed into the sea is ridiculous and pandering--but perhaps purposeful.

Some will argue he's simply doing what liberals do--trying to see both sides no matter what. I say the comments strongly suggest he's angling to suceed Kofi Annan. He's been all over the world of late, from tsunami relief to hob-nobbing at global warming seminars and most recently raising the pinky at Davos. He are the world.

Perhaps the Clintons secretly strategize about a grand plan for 2008--Hillary as president and Bill as Secretary General. It's a natural progression for him if you think about it--president of the world. Or maybe he's just meeting lots of chicks..?


'There's a better way'...

The repubs are vulnerable, comparable at least to the demonization of Newt in the late 90s. Any decent crop of democrats could perhaps flip the tables in Congress this fall. Yet the face of the party continues to be Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, Kennedy, Clinton and Howard the Duck.

Wanna know the real "better way" dems? Unload those comic book characters, or muzzle them into obscurity, and let guys like the Virginia governor be the face of the party. These up-and-comers look half decent, but they'll be drowned out or guilty by association if things stay the same. Just a friendly suggestion from an ex democrat.

On the verge of a new space race?

A very interesting article popped up this week but so far hasn't attracted much media attention. Perhaps it should have.

A Russian firm has declared they want funding to build a base on the Moon by 2015. Their stated reason? To extract Helium-3 and bring it back to Earth as an energy source by 2020. Are these guys on the level, or just blowing smoke?

Harken back to the 2004 State of the Union address. Bush made the bold assertion that he wanted a Lunar base to serve as a jumping off point for trips to Mars and beyond. However, the president said nothing about mining the moon. Certainly his administration understands the potential of Helium-3:
"Helium 3 fusion energy may be the key to future space exploration and settlement.....(it) could be the cash crop for the moon,"
so said Gerald Kulcinski, Director of the Fusion Technology Institute (FTI) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison back in 2000.

Let’s look at a few scenarios. If burning fossil fuels is actually roasting the planet like the global warming chicken littles assert, then we’re facing a huge problem within a relatively short period of time. It’s logical to assume world leaders are planning mitigation strategies.

When Bush announced his Moon plan, he invited the Russians to join. Since then we’ve seen the Chinese send a manned vehicle into space. Keep in mind the Chicoms previously announced their intentions to build a base and mine the moon back in 2003.

One might ask the altruistic question—if Helium-3 is so promising why doesn’t the world form a cartel and work together to bring it back? I believe the answer is that such fluff only exists in TV sci-fi melodramas. In the real world human nature forces such things into a competition of sovereignties, IE, the first country that can get to the Moon and harness the technology controls the future. Star wars, anyone?

Let’s see if Bush mentions anything tonight.


A relatively stock speech. He was forceful on terrorism, which we've seen before, but it was interesting to hear him define winning and losing. The border bit struck my fancy, as I believe we need an orderly guest worker program and a wall, if that's what it takes.

His energy initiative sounds pretty bold and probably not doable without a herculean push. Americans will not easily give up their combustion engines, espeically if NASCAR is still around. Transition vehicles will have to be cool and powerful.

Nothing about mining the moon, though. Matter of fact, nothing about the space program at all.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Super Security Bowl

Ayman al-Zawahiri presented his lovely mug to the world again today to confirm he's still around. It took awhile to get this tape on the streets, but considering the source it's uncertain anything can be made from the delay. Maybe al-Jazeera didn't have a studio available. Ok, just kidding.

World Net Daily, or as my liberal friends call it "World Nut Daily" is heralding the tape as a warning to Super Bowl fans. They believe they've established a pattern of 2 tapes followed by an attack one month later. Keep in mind they also predicted a suitcase nuke attack last year. And remember, we didn't see this pattern before either attack on the World Trade Center, but perhaps Saddam doesn't give the same advanced warnings. Just kidding again.

But there are other flags flying. February 5th, aka Super Bowl Sunday, is apparently a symbolic day for the Mujahadeen, not because they enjoy smash mouth football, but because it's the anniversary of the day they finally cleared the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Ironically, they wouldn't have triumphed without our CIA ops providing Stinger missiles. You'd think they'd be grateful.


Zawahiri and Bin Laden have apparently set the stage for the next attack on America:
"The lion of Islam, Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may God protect him, offered you a decent exit from your dilemma," he said. "But your leaders, who are keen to accumulate wealth, insist on throwing you in battles and killing your souls in Iraq and Afghanistan and -- God willing -- on your own land."
This of course in reference to Bin Laden's faux truce offer.

Zawahiri even taunted the president, "Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses."

Assuming they pull it off, will we be ready? Do people even realize we're still at war, or will they stare at their TV like a Brook Trout? It's up to Bush to prepare the nation, and he'll have the stage tomorrow night.


Just watched it on A&E. Other than being a well-done technical recreation of the day's events, it realistically conveyed the personal aspect of their plight with only a dash of melodrama and patriotism. It brought everything rushing back, but I suppose that was the point. And in light of current events, probably necessary.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bring us your huddled masses looking for IDs

Tennessee is on a roll. First we had a Highway Patrol scandal, then dead people voted, now we've developed a new black market for fraudulent IDs.

Left Tennessee residents might recall a previous occurrence when a local DMV examiner, charged with accepting bribes in return for issuing licenses to illegal aliens from the Middle East shortly after 9/11, died in a fiery car crash, later ruled arson. She was to testify the next day.

At the time Tennessee allowed illegals to obtain standard licences with proof of residence. Anecdotal--I've witnessed construction contractors herding around sheepish looking men at the DMV, most certainly undocumented workers getting licenses so they can drive the company pickem up. It's a productivity thing, I guess.

The state recently began requiring social security numbers along with proof of residence to obtain licenses, but began issuing a sort of Miller Lite version to illegals, which supposedly can't be used for identification even though everyone seems to accept them for identification.

But even with a history of fraud it seems the overpowering desire for a dirt cheap labor pool trumps all, no matter which party is in power. Of course we can't blame everything on governor Phil. DMV workers need to display personal ethics higher than those of a fruit gnat. Uh, what's that you say? They have a good reason to cheat?
Still, the allure of payoffs to underpaid license examiners may only increase as requirements tighten and certificates become more precious, said Melissa Savage, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
I knew the whole thing was my fault. If only we hadn't protested that income tax.

By the way, you won't find that last quote in the Commercial Appeal's version of the AP story. You'll have to access this Breitbart version.

Down with traitors...

Uncle Saddam yelled this phrase as he was removed from the court as the trial sort of resumed today. The new judge from Halabja postponed the next hearing til Wednesday based on some complex formula, apparently depending on whether the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars, if I understand it correctly.

This trial is surely reaching a saturation point. Saddam continues to control the headlines and the judicial leadership is in disarray. Surely the Iraqis are frustrated, but the American people (assuming they care) might also reach a tipping point where they either agree with Ramsey Clark to move the trial out of country or simply let the judge smack the gavel, yell 'guilty' and order a hanging.

The former is not acceptable to the administration as it would turn into the bash America show. The latter also seems out of the question based on events on the ground, since a sudden execution of Saddam might be like putting a stick in a hornet's nest. Besides, both results would make America look bad. So, we press on.

But are we pressing on to avoid the unpleasantness above, or something else?

Policy primer for James Hansen

Continuing on the scientific theme, check out the New York Times' latest bombshell, this time accusing the Bush administration of trying to muzzle the government's leading global warming researcher, NASA scientist James Hansen.

This is not a post about whether global warming is real or imagined. It's real, at least based on about 100 years of instrument data and several thousand years of tree rings. There are disagreements about the cause, and if we had several thousand years of reliable data it might allow us to make more informed decisions. There's still a lot we don't know.

Therefore it's irresponsible to speak with absolute certainty about mitigation strategies, which is what Dr. Hansen wants to do. As bad as this sounds, federal employees don't have the right to promote personal opinions on politics or policy when speaking for their agencies. Just soze Dr. Hansen doesn't feel he's being picked on, this restriction applies throughout Uncle Sam-dom. He wasn't hired as some kind of environmental pope.

There are good reasons for this. Imagine each CIA station chief telling the media what they think our foreign policy should be, or a Census official offering opinions on how to handle diversity or border issues. When they speak for their agency they speak for the administration, like it or not. Similar restrictions apply in the corporate world.

There's an easy way around this. Dr. Hansen can simply retire into private consulting where he'll be free to speak his mind all the live long day.

MORE 1/29/06

Here is Dr. Hansen's University of Iowa speech. Frankly speaking he's making an end run around administration rules, and that's my only beef. Allow me to make a comparison.

Say the Director of the National Weather Service, a government agency, shows up at a climate seminar and announces he's paid his own way and will speak as a private citizen. He then proceeds to blast the Bush administration--his bosses--for making a Faustian bargain by underfunding NWS in the face of record numners of hurricanes and tornadoes, stating that the country is heading for disaster. He says thank you, gets in his car and drives back to DC, then reports to work Monday morning. Think he'd get away with it?


It's probably only a coincidence that Bush plans to speak about alternative energy/energy independence on Tuesday night, but it certainly could be viewed as a response to the Hansen story.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


It's amazing what some people refer to as "work" these days:
Sex might have significant benefits in lowering stress, blood pressure and anxiety, according to a new study. A psychologist in Scotland based his study on the sexual activities of a group of men and women over the course of two weeks.
More eye-popping revelations:
The study also points to a difference between men and women. It shows that men have a higher sex drive when they are stressed, except when they are anxious about finances. But women's sex drive appears to go down when they are stressed.
Let me translate, "when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". He could have just asked Joe Sixpack and saved the time, but I reckon nothing really exists until it's published. And hey, I'm sure the peer review was a lot of fun, er, hard work.

Such stuff reminds me of another great scientist and his distinguished body of work, immortalized on celluloid back in the 80s:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

MAMA MIA 1/29/06

Berlusconi should've perused the study before making his pledge.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't do it...

In the post below about hostage Jill Carroll your humble correspondent speculated that the Iraqi women held prisoner were not really terrorists at all, rather they were picked up for leverage against their men.

The reason? As soon as Ms. Carroll was captured the Coalition decided pretty quickly to release some of these women, which would never happen if they were indeed dangerous themselves.

Looks like that might have been true. Now, I'm certainly no tactical expert, I'm not in Iraq, in law enforcement, and not even in the military. Our valiant men and women face huge challenges on the ground there and are under enormous pressure to get results. But assuming this is true, it seems like a bad idea. My two cents..just don't do it.

The story quotes experts who suggest "Saddam was doing this", as if we're no different than the Butcher. Ridiculous. America is unlike any other country, we're human like everyone else, but we're trying to free people and give them a chance at the lives we lead here. We will correct wrongs, perceived or otherwise.

Let's hope Ms. Carroll is returned safely, and soon.


The Christian Peacemaker team, largely forgotten since their November capture, resurfaced today. Their captors are now demanding that ALL Iraqi prisoners be released.

It's doubtful the timing was a coincidence. After seeing 400 detainees plus several women released shortly after the Carroll kidnapping, this bunch probably figures our policy is now compromised and ripe for exploitation. Ms. Carroll is still not free, therefore if we reiterate a hard line against the CPT kidnappers, it might affect her chances of release, too. This is a thinking and devious enemy.

MORE 1/30/06

New video (seems to be a banner day for AJ). CSM issues statement as well.

Since she wasn't released after the five female Iraqis were set free, it's likely she'll continue to be held awhile, at least until the next "routine" prisoner release occurs. Neither side can afford to back down now.

Assuming the terrorists' stated goal is genuine, killing Ms. Carroll would seem to be counterproductive. It could also create a huge PR downside based on the sheer number of both Shiite and Sunni Clerics demanding her release.

Could Ms. Carroll be a willing hostage? There is precedent--the German archeologist recently freed for ransom had part of that ransom on her person, giving the impression she was in cahoots with her kidnappers. And, the Carroll kidnappers had never been heard of before this event. But the fact Ms. Carroll's reporting wasn't very controversial and more importantly that her translator was killed in the abduction suggests she's indeed being held against her will.

The roadmap to war

The mainstream media is hyperventilating about Hamas winning the parlamentary elections in Palestinia, and for good reason of course, it's nearly akin to al-Qaeda winning an election. But it's not like the alternative was that much better. Just look at how they reacted to the loss..
The protesters waved yellow Fatah flags, fired weapons into the air and burned several vehicles as they denounced the election results and demanded the resignations of corrupt party officials. Demonstrators also rejected participation in any Hamas government.
We're talking about the same gang led for years by Arafat, essentially a Nobel prize winning terrorist. The difference is Hamas never tried on the sheep's clothing.

But the fact remains Hamas is a formally designated terrorist organization. Only Jimmy Carter, Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez might recognize their government. Around work today some friends marvelled at how fast Bush's entire ME policy, which looked promising just a year ago, was officially sent down the commode with this election. The consensus was depressing, going into the weekend and all.

A search is a search

Amidst all the clamor from liberal defenders of the constitution about Bush's double secret surveillance program, it's interesting that a bastion of liberalism, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, had this to say about another form of searches without probable cause:

An appeals court on Thursday dismissed a legal challenge to federal airport regulations requiring passengers to show identification before they board planes.
Don't know about you, but last time I boarded a plane I was forced to show ID. I'm pretty sure they didn't have probable cause.
After reviewing the government's identification policy in private, a unanimous three-judge panel said the policy was not overly intrusive. The review was done in private for security reasons.

The court noted that the secret regulations allow passengers to fly without providing an ID if they submit to searches. The court dismissed assertions that such searches are unreasonable.
There's that word "unreasonable" again, as in the 4th Amendment. The same word is at the heart of the NSA spy controversy, used by the Bush adminstration along with presidential CIC powers to justify listening to Al Qaeda-US person phone calls.

Bush's detractors generally consider this an end-run around the constitution, yet to me it appears there is more constitutional argument behind the NSA eavesdrop than with TSA airport screeners. At least with the NSA program we presume they're listening to calls from known terrorists. Everybody is a terrorist at the airport.

Personally I don't like either intrusion, but both are practical trade-offs made in the name of security in an age of WMD. The interesting thing is the case was filed by a libertarian not a liberal, so let's see how much scorn is heaped on the 9th Circuit for this clearly unlawful violation of the 4th Amendment.

MORE 1/28/06

Andrew McCarthy responds to the NSA super-snooper critics and says, poppycock!
We are either at war or we are not. If we are, the president of the United States, whom the Constitution makes the commander-in-chief of our military forces, is empowered to conduct the war — meaning he has unreviewable authority to employ all of the essential incidents of war fighting.

Not some of them. All of them. Including eavesdropping on potential enemy communications. That eavesdropping — whether you wish to refer to it by the loaded "spying" or go more high-tech with "electronic surveillance" or "signals intelligence" — is as much an incident of warfare as choosing which targets to bomb, which hills to capture, and which enemies to detain.
Airport security screenings occur regardless of war or peace. The court of appeals argued that one has other travel alternatives, therefore the mandatory searches were "reasonable" and didn't violate the 4th Amendment. But with the NSA program, one also has other avenues to communicate, such as personal contact, snail mail or couriers. Theoretically one only becomes ensnared in the NSA's net if they choose to use certain methods of communication, and with suspected terrorists.

The glaring difference is that the NSA 'searches' are done without prior consent, but that sorta makes McCarthy's point--they are a counterintelligence operation enacted by the CIC after a major attack to protect the country. Conversly, the government treats everyone who chooses to board a commercial airplane as a terrorist at all times, and without probable cause. This should also infuriate those waving the 4th Amendment in Bush's face, right?

Looking back, not only did the Clinton administration embrace tougher airport screenings (without probable cause), but the Gore Commission even initially recommended racial profiling. We were at war then too, but few realized it and the complaints were minor in comparison. For the record, I'm only pointing out the inconsistency, not suggesting we stop these procedures.


They've ruled the partial birth abortion ban unconstitutional, due to no provision for the "health of the mother". I understand the construct, but can't help but wonder how abortion enhances the "health of the baby". Oops, forgot it was just a blob.

How does this relate to airport security? It doesn't, but hey--it's my blog and I can color outside the lines if I want to.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Damascus Tower to WMD flight 56, clear to land

Hannity had a guest named Georges Sada on his show today. Sada, a former higher-up in the Iraqi Air Force and one of the minions in the picture to the left, said "yes, without a doubt" the WMD materials and documentary evidence were moved to Syria in 2002 after Saddam realized Bush might actually 'bring it on'.

Not that I uncategorically believe him--we've heard similar puffery in the past regarding WMDs, and this man is also selling a book. But he doesn't appear a stock huckster. He's an Assyrian Christian, and while that might add suspicion to any MSM story, it tends to elevate him in my eyes.

Besides, he's not the only one to say this, and it makes some sense. Iraqi Freedom was perhaps the most telegraphed war in history and there existed a worldwide consensus of a weapons program, so why not move them and make Bush and Blair look like fools? Sounds very Saddam-ish.

Of course, if the WMDs were moved it means they still exist. Not good in light of the rather surreal revelation a bonafide terrorist organization just won the Palestinian elections, with obligitory atta-boys coming from the nuke-lusting nuts in Tehran. Try to suppress that smile, Jimmy.

Don't worry, it's really just a symbolic change in the letterhead. I'm quite sure both sides stand behind the official "wipe em off the map" motto. One was just better at hiding it.

But back to Mr. Sada. He seems a very positive man--an optimist about the future of the Middle East. It's hard to share his enthusiasm, but he experienced the regime up close, so maybe he's knows of what he speaks.


The trial of the Indiana truck driver accused of trying to rat out federal agents to Iraq before the war has ended with a verdict. Previous coverage here. Check LASunsett for the update, who's been following this closely.

Mr. Shabaan couldn't convince the jury he was a nut, but he did seem to convince them he had nefarious purposes. Was he an Iraqi agent or proxy? Perhaps if Stephen Hayes gets ahold of those Baghdad documents they can search for his name.

Cease and desist

Bush again defended his NSA surveillance program in a press conference today, saying he might fight to keep it in place. Assuming he's on the level regards the necessity of the operation, that attitude alone should tell us something.

But the funny thing is, amidst all the angst (mainly from the left) about the violations of civil liberties, there hasn't been a noticeable groundswell of people demanding the program be immediately stopped.

THE CHIEF SAYS... 1/27/06

Jim Kouri of the National Association of Chiefs of Police spells out why the NSA program is different than a standard criminal justice issue.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Moonbats over Mesopotamia

There's a chance Saddam’s case might end up at the Hague after all, as he's apparently considering filing suit against Bush and Blair. If true, I'm wondering where the anti-war crowd will come down. Just like the Osama bin Laden tape, our foes seem to understand that dividing us is their only hope to conquer us.

As to Ramsey Clark, he's treading very close to the edge of traitor gulch in my book. Our troops are being killed at the behest of Izzat al-Douri, Saddam's right hand man for the insurgency, while Clark and company prepare briefs for his boss.

Speaking of the lunatic fringe, an interesting video appeared from out of the ether in Britain today showing George ‘Twinkle Toes’ Galloway shaking hands and cavorting with Uday Hussein at one of Saddam’s presidential palaces. Here are some highlights:
...Galloway also orders watching journalists not to publish parts of their conversation. ...according to the paper, he taunts the U.S. and vows to stick with Uday "until the end".
This appeared a few hours before this:
The video emerged just hours before a British court ruled in Galloway's favor in a libel suit involving allegations of wrongdoing.

An appeals court in London upheld an award of around $250,000 in damages after a lower court ruled Galloway had been libeled by the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The paper alleged Galloway had accepted tens of thousands of dollars from the oil-for-food program.
As bloggers like to say, hmmm.

During the Hitchens Galloway debate late last year Hitchens challenged Galloway on the Oil For Food question:
And someone whom hasn't answered my question, my challenge. I said in round terms when I opened that this is not just a matter of which of us can be the rudest, because I already conceded that to Mr. Galloway. Or which of us could be the most cerebral, because he has already conceded that to me. But I said that there's a further grudge between us, which is this, I say that Mr. Galloway discussed the allocation of Oil For Food profits that stole directly from the Iraqi people, and that helped to corrupt the scheme and program of the United Nations. I say he discussed that personally with Mr. Tariq Aziz in Baghdad, at least once, and if he will put his name to an affidavit, that formally denies that, we can have done with this business. But if he does not, it's going to haunt him on every stop of this tour, and all the way back to England, and everywhere he goes to raise the flag of jihad in the Middle East. This I promise you, I promise you.


AG: George Galloway, five minutes.

GG: Bring me the affidavit, I'll sign it now.

CH: Very good.

GG: It's a complete lie. It's a lie like the others lies on your leaflets that you were handing out like and idiot on the street before this meeting.

It's a lie. Buy my book, if you don't want to buy it, go to the website of the RespectCoalition.org and read it. I've already dealt with this, it's a lie. Nobody every discussed oil allocations with me, not Tariq Aziz, not anybody. I've already said it under oath, never mind an affidavit, under oath on pain of imprisonment in front of the US Senate. That smokescreen will not wash. You want me to run through the dictatorships you're supporting? Do you want me to run..?
Wonder what on earth Uday and the good MP discussed in the privacy of the palace?

HT Seixon

Yet another Hitler

First let me say I like Newt Gingrich. I think he got a bad rap from the press in the 90s. But his latest comparison of Ahmadinejad to Hitler shows that he might be falling out of touch.

It's just passe to call people Hitler anymore. Besides, we can't just have Hitlers running all around the place, it dilutes his evilness. First Saddam was Hitler, then Bush was Hitler. Matter of fact, everybody might become Hitler if they live long enough.

I'd like to suggest calling Ahmandinejad the new Mao Ze-Dong, but even this would be erroneous since he's got about 49 million people to exterminate to get close. He's more like a blue chip Mao prospect, but til you prove yourself in the big leagues, you ain't nothing.

I'll tell you what though--we need to find something for him, because Ahmandinejad is too darn hard to say and type.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The complete picture

Alberto Gonzales spent the day explaining the NSA snoop program by giving a speech at Georgetown, and the media coverage offered a perfect example of why we need the blogosphere to get a complete picture of any story.

Here is the speech if you'd like to persuse it yourself. Then compare Powerline's coverage with that of CNN.com and the NY Times.

Powerline's lawyers provided commentary on the speech excerpts, not agreeing 100 percent, but certainly giving us the meat and potatoes of his talk with a rightward slant.

Reading CNN.com you'd think the entire event was a fracus. The first FIVE paragraphs of their coverage was devoted to hooded protesters there to disrupt the speech. Nothing wrong with hooded protesters, but according to CNN they WERE the story. Hardly.

The NY Times cannot be considered neutral on this story under any imaginable scenario. Their own reporter broke the bombshell under pleading protestations from Bush, and is trying to sell a book. I can imagine a state of war existing between the two.

Yet, they ran a fairly balanced story. Only one paragraph was devoted to the protesters, which was warranted, and both sides of the debate were presented. In contradiction to Powerline, their quoted lawyers were stacked against the operation as "illegal", but I didn't necessarily feel any slanted overtones.

To get a complete picture of almost any story these days news consumers need to be good sifters. Such is made possible by alternative media, ie bloggers, who can serve as checks and balances to the established media. And we know how the media loves those checks and balances.

Federal Court now ok for disputed elections


Our local "dead voter" election between Ophelia Ford, a member of the powerful west Tennessee Ford political machine, and upstart challenger Terry Roland is starting to take on some parallels to the Bush-Gore 2000 election. Like Bush in 2000, the democrats have gone federal.

They used a quickie lawsuit filed by two live voters alleging federal voting rights violations, which enabled them to get a Ford family friendy federal judge to issue a restraining order stopping the State from vacating the election--one with proven voter fraud and only decided by 13 votes.

So, I'll take this as a new democrat endorsement for using the feds to decide elections. Back in 2000 we heard a cacophony from the left about how Bush was 'selected not elected', etc, etc. Many still trash Katherine Harris for just being alive. But suddenly it's not such a bad idea when the roles are reversed.

The difference here is that 2000 was a federal election, so it belonged in federal court. This is a state election and has no business in federal court. It matters little to the plaintiffs, since this is clearly a stunt designed to stop the state, now controlled by a republican majority, from doing the peoples' business.

If the final vote is allowed to proceed in the Senate the next move might be to charge racism or some other obsfucation. It's really just rank intimidation. I believe the Ford family truly thinks they're entitled to this seat, no matter how they get it. Sad, but all the writing on the wall supports that view.

MORE 1/26/2006

As most are aware, Judge Donald issued a one week stay indicating she would research the law and rule next Wednesday.

Here's the bottom line from the Commercial Appeal:
If she rules she has jurisdiction, she will then rule on whether voters' rights were violated.

Then she could issue an injunction that blocks the Senate from unseating Ford.
She's potentially got the hole outcome in her hands, and she's not even an elected member of Tennessee government, or even the Tennessee Judiciary.

All of this from a someone recommended by the candidate's brother. Other than the screaming conflict of interest buzzard flying around the room, everything looks above board.

WHAT IF? 1/28/06

What if Judge Donald rules for the plaintiffs here--in other words, rules that despite the proven fraud the state Senate cannot vacate the election because it would disenfranchise voters? Such a ruling would set several precedents.

One is that politicians might figure it would allow carte blanche cheating in future elections, knowing that if challenged they could fall back on the voting rights standard set by Judge Donald. Another is federal intervention in state election affairs.

On the flip side, a ruling against the plantiffs would indicate the judge is in no way beholden to the Ford machine. That would be refreshing, but certainly a long shot. Even if she harbors no IOUs to the Ford family whatsoever, the easy choice is a ruling for the plaintiffs. She knows the state would appeal to higher courts, effectively allowing her to wash hands of this racially charged case altogether.

Let Harry speak

Belafonte, Reid, or anyone else named Harry for that matter. I really don't get the notion that just because someone is a barking moonbat they shouldn't be allowed to prove it on national TV or radio, even during a time of war.

So, I respectfully disagree with Hugh Hewitt on this one. Harry should be heard and seen any ole day-o he wishes.


The liberal and the little ole lady.

HT Neocon Blogger

Monday, January 23, 2006

Saddam circus heading back to town

The trial is set to get back underway tomorrow. They've picked another Kurdish judge to replace the one that fled. The whole judge controversy thing is a tad suspect:
But al-Hammash has been under pressure since the Iraqi official in charge of purging government of members of Saddam's former ruling Baath Party accused the judge of being an ex-Baathist.

Al-Hammash has denied belonging to the Baath Party, and a U.S. official has said the de-Baathification laws introduced after the 2003 toppling of Saddam don't apply to the tribunal.
Well, ok then.

Meanwhile, Ramsey Clark is heading back into the fray, and he's already had some harsh words for the court's setup:
"It's a creature of the U.S. military occupation, its statute was drafted by the U.S. and rubber-stamped later by people in the U.S. and supported all the time," he said.
As if having the most successful operator of modern democracy on earth involved in the setup is just horrible. Perhaps Clark would recommend using Saddam's model?

UPDATE 1/24/2006

The trial was delayed again. Seems too many witnesses were still busy with their Hajj pilgramiges to attend. The whole thing may be on the verge of unraveling.

As things remain chaotic expect to hear more nonsense from international busy-bodies like Ramsey Clark, who have the temerity to spout off stuff like this:
International human rights groups have said Saddam may not get a fair trial in the climate of sectarian and ethnic violence gripping Iraq since U.S. forces overthrew his Sunni Arab-dominated government in 2003.
"A fair trial"? We're talking about Saddam here. The folks not getting a fair trial are the Iraqi people--again. Not surprising that Clark and his international peacenik buddies would be against the little guy.

America set up this trial as a showcase for democracy, but so far it's been a showcase for Saddam's ever present grip. We started the process and must finish it, but he's moving us behind an eight ball more every day. We can't say 'the heck with it' and just hang the sucker, or stage an unfortunate accident or disease. Both roads are fraught with political peril.

And if they move the whole kit and kaboodle to the Hague the Ramsey Clarks of the world will take control and quickly put America on trial.

Guess we'll just have to settle for a continuation of Uncle Saddam's Circus and hope for the best. Like perhaps a meteorite hitting his jail cell.


Apparently the new chief judge, Raouf Abdel Rahman, has a slight conflict of interest--he hails from Halabja, ground zero of Saddam's chemical gassing attack in the 80s. As one person put it,
"If Saddam is sentenced, the whole world will say that this is a revenge of the Kurds,"
Not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, though.

Meanwhile the natives are getting restless, and like many of us are frustrated with the process:
"The trial should not be that long. The crimes Saddam has committed are enough for him to be executed. Delaying the trial is another pain for Iraqis, who have already suffered a lot," said Ali Haider, a cleric in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala.
This man was brave. Many wouldn't speak publicly of the trial, even now, for fear of Saddam's retribution. After hearing media reports about John Murtha and friends talking about "leaving yesterday", then seeing hints from Rummy and Bush about troop draw-downs in 2006, who can blame them?

After all, one of the secret docs reportedly obtained by Stephen Hayes contained information given by Saddam to his insurgenet commanders before his capture--paraphrasing---"when you hear the US President talk of bringing the troops home, you'll know we've won".

MORE 1/25

This report might lift Saddam's spirits, since it goes towards his end-game. And Bin Laden's.

But I tend to agree with Rummy's response.

You can't trademark 'a culture of corruption'

It's a culture of corruption! Such is the democrats' latest mantra, sure to be repeated over and over til the November elections. But the slogan would not have received any traction if not for actual corrupt figures like Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham.

The point of the post is not to argue in favor of one party over the other, since I'm pretty convinced the culture of corruption firmly applies to both and therefore cannot be figuratively trademarked by the democrats. No, it's more about the culture of corruption in general. And although it's risky to posit guesses as to whether the present generation is more or less corrupt than past versions, it does appear at least that ours is backsliding.

For example, here's a local story about corruption in the Memphis Police Department's Property and Evidence Room. Drugs and loot were coming in the front door and going out the back. Quite amazing. The director of the center had a million dollars stashed around his house. This is nothing new in the course of history, the question is whether it's beginning to lose its stigma.

Temptation is a strong force. As George Washington put it, "few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder." But the founders had concern that the natural ways of man would undermine the stability of their governmental experiment.

Sam Adams said, "he who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections...."

And John Adams is oft-quoted, "we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

If our society reaches the point where selfish ambition wins the PR battle over personal ethics, and where backroom deals, quid pro quos, and kickbacks rule government, I don't think we can maintain this republic. The barbarians are already massing outside the gate.

Monday morning back spin

President Ahmadinejad said Friday Palestine is the center of the final stages of the battle between Islam and arrogance, saying the Palestinian Intifada is progressing.
So 'Islam' has decided to fight against itself now? I didn't realize Islam was fighting anyone to begin with.
He spoke of the importance of the Palestinian cause and stressed the cause will not come be materialized if occupiers continue to occupy even a tiny part of Palestine's territories.

He stressed that unity, coordination and sympathy among resistance groups for the Palestinian cause is the only guarantee for Palestine's liberation.
And for his own regime's survival as well. Maybe this HAMAS guy didn't get the memo.
The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the Palestinian cause of statehood and liberation of Islamic territories from occupiers, he added.
Where exactly are the "Islamic territories"? I've looked on my maps and can't find them.
Elsewhere, he noted that one of the reasons westerners were lined up against Iran's undeniable right to gain peaceful nuclear technology was because of Iran's uncompromising support for Palestine.
No, we're lined up against Iran's compromised right to gain nuclear WEAPONS, mainly because of insane press releases like this one.


Time magazine flashes a juicy story claiming to have photos of Bush with crook-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but doesn't publish them. Nuff said.

"Osama bin Laden is going to die of kidney failure before he's killed by Karl Rove and his crowd," Kerry said.
There he goes bashing our Special Forces again.
"We're prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer. But we need to put a procedure in place to protect the constitutional rights of Americans."
Vintage flip floppery--we should eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary (to me that means right now), but ONLY after he gets a chance to look like a hero for passing "safeguards" in Congress. We don't even know if what Bush is doing is illegal yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Could THIS be the new Bush doctrine?

Imagine, the Middle East problem solved by a bucket of original recipe:
"This tastes good, and we'll definitely come back to eat here when we're in the mood for chicken," said a 45-year-old Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.

The case against Christ

In what appears more a personal squabble between two former friends, an Italian atheist is attempting to nail Jesus to the cross again. One of his legal arguments will be that no evidence exists to prove Jesus existed.

While all religious beliefs ultimately come down to faith more than logic, there is evidence to support the existence of Jesus. Excellent books such as "A Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel have detailed some of them in analytical terms.

But any such evidence is really secondary to a man like Mr. Cascioli. His end-game is pretty clear:
Cascioli says he is merely going through the necessary legal steps in Italy so he can ultimately take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to pursue the case against the church for "religious racism."
Actually the trial might help Christianity by stirring the debate, but its doubtful that was the goal.

Aside from that, Mr. Cascioli might find himself in trouble from an unlikely source--his argument is a de facto condemnation of Islam. The Qu'ran mentions Christ. Seems that should make him an apostate worthy of a fatwa. Maybe Zarqawi will send a death squad after him.

Iran-al Qaeda -- It doesn't matter

"I think you've got to remember that the Al-Qaeda organization is primarily made up of radical Sunni Islamists, of course, and the Iranian regime is Shia-dominated -- Shia. So there's not a natural fit there,"
Such was the response from VP Cheney to a question about whether Iran was a supporter of al-Qaeda, as Ledeen recently suggested. Cheney's quote comes from a recent chat he had with Hugh Hewitt. Transcript can be found at the Radioblogger.

It's tempting to lump all Islamic terrorism in the same basket, but factions do exist. AQ zombie-warrior Ayman al-Zawahiri once criticized Iran due to their practice of Shia Islam. As mentioned several times here, Ramzi Yousef was suspected of an attack against an Iranian Shia mosque. Yousef hailed from Baluchistan, a lawless area stretching from southeast Iran through Pakistan, which is primarily Sunni. Some suggest they even backed Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war. And check out these MEK guys.

Several books devoted to Bin Laden suggest such an ideological split, however Yossef Bodansky's narrative provided evidence that charismatic Sudanese leader Hasaan al-Turabi was trying to get all of Islam to come together, which also included Iraq, in an effort to defeat their common enemies.

So it's probably a moot point. At last check Hezbollah's mission statement was still to "push Israel into the sea", or "off the map" as Ahmedinejad says. Like Germany and Japan during WWII, the two can work together now and sort out their differences later.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A hero's perspective

Note to self: while I sit here typing blog entries, rambling along on whatever comes to mind, men half a world away are doing the tough stuff in support of my sorry butt. Don't forget about them.

Here's one such man--Maj. Danny McLendon from Montgomery, Alabama, who will be awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions in Iraq.

Read about Major McLendon's actions here.

Heroes are often humble, most times believing they were 'just doing their job'. Major McLendon's perspective suggests that's true of him as well:
McLendon downplays his bravery and insists his wife is the one who deserves a medal.

"All I did was fight a war. She had to put with three 2-year-olds," he said. "She's the true hero."
He's right about that. One is bad enough. So what does the Major's heroic wife think about all the commotion?
McLendon's wife was not aware of her husband heroic actions before the announcement of the award was made.

"I thought he was an idiot," she said. "But that's just the kind of person he is and I'm very proud of him."
I've no doubt the Major is but one of many.

"We don't negotiate with terrorists"

The sad story of CSM reporter Jill Carroll currently dominates headlines. It was reported today that CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) has dispatched emmissaries to Baghdad to advocate for her release. Hopefully this will help matters, but it certainly can't hurt CAIR's somewhat murky image in the states.

Meanwhile, Ms Carroll's deadline has passed without consequence so far. The kidnappers' demand was for all Iraqi women in detention released. Coalition spokesmen say we've got nine in lockup on suspicion of terrorism. And hey--six of them were on schedule to be released Monday. But we don't negotiate, you understand.

One could reasonably ask why women were in custody if they weren't threats. One could reasonably answer--they were wives or girlfriends of terrorists held for leverage. Let's hope not, but it's weird that six would be released so easily knowing it would leave an impression the kidpapping had something to do with it.

But we don't always negotiate. Case in point, remember the Christian Peacemaker Team captured in late 2005? They've all but disappeared off the radar.

MORE 1/22/2006

Coalition spokesmen continue to insist that we are not negotiating, however Iraqi government officials refuse to back off their claims the female prisoners are to be released.

An Iraqi government official stated the following:
"They delayed their release because of the connection with the kidnapping of the American journalist," the Justice Ministry spokesman said.
In other words, we were going to release them anyway. That's certainly a fair question, but Carroll was kidnapped January 7th while these female detainees didn't come before the review board until the 17th, according to the published report.

Sounds as if someone in the new government might have connections to this heretofore unknown 'terror group' they need to explain.

Internet porn

The shame.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Boy is this great!

The immortal words of Kent Dorfman (bear with me, I'm on an Animal House kick) came to mind when hearing that Scooter Libby is gonna drag every reporter under the sun into court in his upcoming trial for perjury and obstruction in the Plamegate affair. This was previously rumored, now confirmed.

The Libby trial holds promise to be a much bigger circus than Saddam's. Woodward, Pincus, Cooper, Mitchell, Kristof, and don't forget the Novak twins. And just think, the NY Times will be forced to withstand another barrage of Judy Miller, just when they had begun to wash their hands of her dark, germ warfare-riddled legacy with Risen's Bushilteristic NSA story.

Get the popcorn ready, folks, the Aspens will soon be in bloom.

JUST ONE MINUTE.. 1/21/2006

JOM has been the go-to blog for all things Plame. Today is no exception. McGuire reminds us that:
Someone ought to mention the recent Wen Ho Lee rulings, which buttressed the right of the defense to go after journalists.
Walter Pincus should know that all too well, he's embroiled in both.

Richard Clarke is right

About the new bin Laden tape, at least. He thinks the tape sets the stage for another attack. I agree.

According to Clarke, Osama's faux truce was just a necessary precursor to such an attack:
"That's not a real truce offer. That's just his definition of victory for him," Clarke said. "If there is a major attack in the United States, he'll be able to say, 'Look, we gave the United States a chance … and they didn't take the offer.' ".

Up until this tape it wasn't practical for AQ to attack America. Politics were drifting in their favor, with polls showing a majority disapproving our actions in Iraq and generally distrusting Bush regards the WoT. Why risk changing the mood with an attack, which might fire everyone back up?

Bin Laden must now believe the climate has changed enough to where an attack, catastrophic enough to grab everyone's attention but not cataclysmic, would benefit the cause.

Here's a possible scenario: another attack occurs, everyone gets upset, then AQ immediately releases a propaganda barrage blaming the attack on Bush and our presence in Iraq and other Muslim countries, which includes the reminder that Bush thumbed his nose at the truce offer. The same tactics were used in Madrid and London.

Where would such a scenario leave the anti-war American left, post-attack? Perhaps Bin Laden believes they'd be forced to take his side regarding his wish to speed our exit from both Iraq and the region at large.

I think it might be time to duck.

FLASH 1/20/2006

The emergence of a dated Zawahiri tape suggests two things--

..AQ is actually showing some mild signs of panic.. and

..Zawahiri might have learned the disappointing news about the 72 after all.

Sending out an old tape demonstrates desperation whether he's dead or alive. Apparently they felt the need to slap something out fast, even if old, in an effort to console their nervous flock. They could have easily produced a quickie audio tape of Zawahiri by now, or simply done nothing at all.

Another reason why they might want to strike here if able, and soon.


Mr. Anonymous, former CIA operative and creator of the rendition program Michael Scheuer, weighs in:
"You ought to take the measure of your enemy and we're not doing that," he said, adding the truce call would resonate positively in the Muslim world.
Surely this wasn't an example of his analytical skills st at CIA, if so I think we're better off with him in retirement. Let me be as nice as possible--perhaps Reuters took him out of context?

Even attempting to respond to this half-baked truce would show weakness, something they can sense like a cat. This truce is like a sucker pin in golf, if you shoot for it you're likely to end up in the trap. Even a college kid can see it's designed to only benefit Bin Laden. And even if we tried, brokering it would be ridiculous. He should know better, but apparently he doesn't:
"U.S. officials continue to describe these people (al Qaeda) as a small bunch of gangsters and crazy people. They have no apparent conception that so much of the Islamic world is angry with America, not because of our freedoms or liberties but because of our foreign policies," he said.
That's because they ARE a small bunch of murdering gangsters. To think otherwise would require a belief that the vast bulk of the Muslim faith advocated murder and glorified terrorists. We're not supposed to believe that, are we?

He talks of our foreign policy like an al-Jazeera commentator. Perhaps he was busy writing another book while America was helping the earthquake and tsunami victims. And what of the billions we pour into 'the Islamic world'? Guess that slipped the mainframe, too. Capitulation never works, Mr. Scheuer.


Bin Laden's tape curiously mentioned that we should all read a particular book named "Rogue State":
"And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book 'Rogue State,'
yada yada. Thanks to Osama's endorsement, American author William Blum's book is now shooting up the most-ordered charts.

Wanna read it? Here's a snippet of the author's dream:
Blum said his life's mission has been this: "If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It's causing so much suffering around the world."
Mentioning this Chomsky-esqe America-hating writer only points out that Bin Laden truly believes the path to victory is partially paved with the American left, similar to Vietnam.

He's certainly accurate in his assessment that Vietnam-era protesters and pissed off ex-soldiers clearly agree with most of his statements about American foriegn policy and share his goals for retreating from the region, without admitting to being on his side, of course. As Blum put it:
And if he is happy to accept bin Laden's plug, he certainly doesn't want to meet his terrorist fan.

"If he would contact me," said Blum, "then I would be scared."
The ironic thing about the left lining up with a guy like Bin Laden, which perhaps escapes them, is that Bin Laden stands for just about everything they hate: control over women (no equal rights), religious theocracy, extreme capital punishment, on and on. It's the hate for our government that brings them together.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Seven years of college, down the drain

A new study suggests college students nearing their degrees are, for lack of a better term, dunces:
More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.
Let's see, they can't understand newspapers (political blogs?) or novels, can't understand simple forms, can't balance a checkbook and can't leave a correct tip. Nothing in there about identifying the characters on Survivor Island or running up credit cards on internet porn, so apparently those skills are intact.

In the spirit of Bluto, who do we blame? Do we blame the students for not knowing what they need and not asking, since "they're passing"? Do we blame the teachers, who apparently don't have time to squeeze practical instruction around their incessant rants about the Iraq war? Or do we blame the university deans, who prop up these shells of learning while gleefully raising tuitions every third sunrise? How about ESPN for showing too much college sports?

Or, do we just blame the president and the vice-president? I'm going with Bush and that bald guy with glasses.

Connective tissue

Slowly but surely we're learning more about the underground tentacles between Islamist radicalism (al-Qaeda and others) and Saddam Hussein. Thomas Joscelyn's Weekly Standard article provides a primer on the Algerian terror group GSPC, in the news lately (well, sorta) due to the capture of several members who were planning an attack on America to kill at least 10,000 people or more.

By most accounts the Algerians appear to be loose cannons and quite dangerous, although they may be more in the range of ground troops rather than generals.

The Joscelyn article suggests a reason France and others pushed back so hard against the Bush Iraq war--self protection. France has a big problem with radical north African Islamists, partially brought to light in the recent Paris riots. The place is a powderkeg and surely Chirac made Bush aware of this from the beginning.

Here's where the dot connecting begins. If Stephen Hayes' recent article about the captured Iraqi government documents can be believed, which implicate Iraq as training thousands of north African jihadis, not only does it directly implicate them as major players in the WoT, but explains the position Europe found itself in vis a vis the WoT.

Grab yourself a copy of Simon Reeve's "The New Jackals", published in late 1999. This is one of the most comprhensive looks at Islamic terrorism you'll find. For example, there is extensive information about how the Mujahadeen used Italy as a stopover on their way to jihad in the Balkans in the 90s, and why bin Laden held them out of the NATO war against Slobodan Milosevic.

Another tidbit discussed was the conventional wisdom of killing Bin Laden, to which Reeve quoted Sudanese spiritual leader Hassan al-Turabi that doing so would "generate thousands of Bin Ladens, thousands of them". If bin Laden is now dead the 'hapless' Bush team seems to have taken al-Turabis advice.

But the one thing that struck me as precient was a prediction he made in the book. He said Bin Laden would be forced to leave Afghanistan within several years (of 1999) due to external and internal pressures, and that before leaving he'd likely try to pull off a major attack with the goal of starting a worldwide war. We all know the outcome.

Reeve didn't forget to cover the Saddam-Bin Laden connection (remember, this was written in 1999):
"By early 1999, however, Osama bin Laden was in the process of forging a secret alliance with Saddam Hussein .."
He continues:
However contacts between Bin Laden and Iraq were maintained by representatives of the Iranian terror group MKO, which has its headquarters near Baghdad, and wanted to use bin Laden and the Taliban to incite violence on the border between Iran and Afghanistan--just as they had used Ramzi Yousef. Their contacts appeared to have worked because bin Laden began expressing open support for Iraq in his public comments."
Reeve goes on to detail the meeting between Farouk Hijazi, a senior Iraqi intelligence officer and Bin Laden/Taliban officials in Afghanistan in 1998, an operation he says was triggered by Qusay Hussein. In this purported meeting the Iraqi agent offered safe haven for Bin Laden while also presenting a list of targets Saddam wanted attacked, one of which was Radio Free Europe in Prague. Prague, hmm, why does that ring a bell? Anyway, another meeting allegedly took place between representatives of the two in Khartoum in 1999.

Perhaps the documents will one day be released for inspection, but then again pigs may also fly. But even without them a continuing belief that Saddam was a grandfatherly fool not involved in the spider web of Arabic/Islamic terrorism defies all known evidence and surely defies logic. As Christopher Hitchens said in his debate with Scott Ritter last month, "we were going to have to confront Saddam sooner or later".


This amazing story appears to back up that contention that France was posturing when they opted-out of the Iraq war. It also includes stunning rhetoric from Chirac that he'll launch nukes on any countries who attack France in kind. Unilaterally? What, no global test, Jacques?

Meanwhile our reclusive friend Osama came out of hibernation, or at least his voice did. After declaring we had lost the WoT he offered us a truce. This kinds reminded me of Billy Bob Thornton in the movie 'the Alamo' offering Santa Ana's men leniancy as he was about to be shot. Or a pirate walking the plank and shooting his shipmates the moon.

VP Cheney immediately came out and said it sounded like a ploy (really?) and obviously we won't negotiate. Why would anyone think this was even remotely possible?

So it looks like another terrorist kingpan has become a zombie-fighter, but maybe not. Indications are the tape was made in December and did not mention the recent predator attacks, so Micheal Ledeen might not be wrong yet. Until we see both Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri talking about current events their existence should remain dubious.

MORE 1/19/2006

Here's the full text of Bin Laden's "truce".

There didn't seem to be much of a truce, unless you consider "remove all US presence from the entire world and we'll stop" a viable truce. Since AQ is currently only attacking our military in Iraq, this seemed a non sequitur. Also, based on Bin Laden's talking points I got the strange feeling his speechwriter had been trolling the Democratic Underground for content. Just throwing that one out there.

His most supreme zombie-ness closed the missive as follows:
You have tried to prevent us from leading a dignified life, but you will not be able to prevent us from a dignified death. Failing to carry out jihad, which is called for in our religion, is a sin. The best death to us is under the shadows of swords. Don't let your strength and modern arms fool you. They win a few battles but lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are much better. We were patient in fighting the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years and we bled their economy and now they are nothing.

In that there is a lesson for you.
Yes, Mr. Laden, WE helped you acquire those "simple" weapons--heat seeking stinger missiles--REMEMBER? Otherwise the Soviets might still be there. Also, look closely and you'll catch a reference to Paul Wolfowitz named in combo with Bush/Cheney and Rummy. Wolfowitz left a year ago.

Corrected credit for original article to the correct author.. and minor misspellings..sorry bout dat.

Friends in high places

I've been observing the brouhaha over the dead voter scandal here in west Tennessee from the sidelines. Local blogs such as Main Street Journal and Thaddeus Mathews have extensive coverage (you can even read about a drive to recall our mayor at Mr. Mathews' blog).
Surely voting scandals such as this are not uncommon across America.

To quickly summarize the case, democrat Ophelia Ford squared off republican Terry Roland for the State Senate seat left vacant by her Ophelia's brother, the notorious John Ford after his indictment and resignation due to the Operation Tennessee Waltz sting. The district has been controlled by the Ford machine for a long time, so it was actually quite shocking Terry Roland made it a race. He lost by 13 votes.

The mess was recommended to a committee for further study, which has amounted to about zip. Upon that the Senate acted yesterday and preliminarily voted 17-14 to vacate the election. The reaction was typical and trite. Ms. Ford was quoted as saying,
It's about racism. It's about Jim Crowism, and I've been talking to my family and we're going to let the federal courts decide," she said.
First, it's kind of funny to hear someone claiming racism and Jim Crowism in a city with two black mayors (city and county) and majority on the city council, along with her family itself. Speaking of her family, when she referred to conversing with them she probably meant her brother, former US Representative Harold Ford, Sr. Then today we get this bombshell:
NASHVILLE -- A federal judge in Memphis late Wednesday blocked the Tennessee Senate from its planned vote today to overturn the Senate District 29 election and expel Sen. Ophelia Ford.
And who was the federal judge?
..US Dist Judge Bernice Donald.. appointed to the U.S. District Court 10 years ago after a recommendation from Ophelia Ford's brother, then-Congressman Harold Ford.
Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Most rational people would probably look at this election, an election with PROOF that dead people voted and that was only decided by 13 votes and proclaim "do over". There's no guarantee that will happen. This is a shining example of life in the big city. Way too many people owe their careers to the Ford family and their power won't disappear easily.

Still, the idea of fair elections and ethics in public office should never be abandoned, no matter what the reality. It's a process we need to all protect, but things like this can tarnish it greatly. If we do nothing, elections could become no more legitimate than Saddam's last great victory in Iraq when he got 100 percent of the vote.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The significance of the Predator raid

An al-Qaeda WMD expert named Midhat Mursi was reportedly killed in the recent attack targeting al-Zawahiri in Pakistan. Let's hope he doesn't rise to become another zombie warrior like so many others.

But if true it's a pretty big score. Mursi, aka Abu Khabab al-Masri, was by all accounts rising in the al-Qaeda power structure and is chem/bio expert. He's been associated with the "red-headed terrorist", Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, also a chemical specialist and jihadi trainer in Afghanistan during the Taliban days. According to the Pakistanis Nasar the Red was captured back in November of last year. Both slugs were keen on getting WMDs to America, or as Nasar liked to say, "dirty bombs for a dirty nation".

According to Robert Wesley from the Jamestown Foundation they were yet to acquire enough sophistication to get a viable program running before we cleaned out the camps, but had been interested in things like anthrax:
Whether due to the frustrations of a stagnate nuclear weapons program or the aspiration to pursue other WMD for their unique capabilities, al-Qaeda, under the direction of Abu Hafs al-Masri and Midhat Mursi, aka Abu Khabab, established a biological weapons program around 1999 [6]. The program experimented and developed several biological agents including botulinum toxin, but al-Qaeda still seemed fixated on agents with mass casualty potential. Operating in laboratories scattered among al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, the biological program began experiments in isolating a virulent strain of “Agent X,” most likely anthrax bacteria.

It is difficult for a group such as al-Qaeda to weaponize anthrax bacteria, but not impossible. Through interrogations and captured documents, we know that al-Qaeda was interested in aerial dispersal of a weaponized biological agent, presumably anthrax bacteria [7]. The primacy given to anthrax bacteria indicates that either deterrence was still considered an appealing possibility through biological as well as nuclear weapons, or that the intention was to actually engage in a WMD attack with the view of inflicting mass casualties. The second of these possibilities would have been a departure from the previous focus on deterrent weapons. If we look back to the initial debate over WMD we find that there was substantial disagreement among al-Qaeda leadership over the possible audiences’ negative reactions to a WMD attack. The audiences under consideration included the victimized population and its government, potential international sympathetic constituencies and perhaps even elements of al-Qaeda itself. These apparent reservations appear to have been resolved with the advancement of its biological weapons program.
Any mention of anthrax in enemy hands should rustle up memories of the anthrax letter attacks, yet it rarely does. Were the letters actually AQ calling cards?

That question always presents the following dichotomy--if the letters were of AQ origin (as opposed to some nutball American scientist) it means they once possessed weaponized anthrax in some quantity. Why no follow-on attacks? One might argue our aggressive anti-terror measures prevented them entry to the country, but foreign entrance is no prerequisite. The letter contents and stamp lickers were already here.

This brings to mind a possible reason Bush spun up the NSA eavesdropping program. Since nobody was caught in relation to the original attack we have no reason to believe anyone left the country, although we have no clue who they might be. Why not surveille known AQ people overseas, like Masri or Nasar, to see who they might be calling here? We might get lucky and prevent a "go call".

Why not go through FISA? We'll assume Bush was not doing this for nefarious purposes, since he informed a small but influential cadre of government officials beforehand. For the program to be effective the circle of knowledge couldn't be too too wide, perhaps not even enough for the FISA court, since loose lips abound anywhere political points can be scored. Just a thought.

Then again, what if neither AQ nor some deranged scientist was responsible for the anthrax attacks? That leaves only one potential suspect who could have benefited from such a deterrent. It's the guy whose country is now in turmoil, whose deputy was killed but came back to life to direct the "Saddamist" insurgency, and who himself has yet to meet the hangman's noose, while his chief trial judge recently scampered back to Kurdistan in abject fear.


Boortz. Gotta love the way he puts things in perspective sometimes..
# Midhat Mursi (pictured), also known as Abu Khabab (not to be confused with shish kebab, which he probably currently resembles) was known to have been in the area at the time. Who is he? He ran a chemical and explosives training camp in Afghanistan.

WHOOPS 1/26/2006

Did the government display an incorrect photo of Midhat Mursi, aka Abu Khabab? When the story came out the pic looked awful close to the fanatical British Imam Abu Hamza, last in the news when Richard Reid was captured, but I couldn't believe they'd mistake the two. Did they?

The mommy party and the daddy party

A research group has come to a startling conclusion: men enjoy seeing "cheaters" punished more than women:
Bill Clinton said he felt others' pain. But a new brain-scanning study suggests that when guys see a cheater get a mild electric shock, they don't feel his pain much at all. In fact, they rather enjoy it.

In contrast, women's brains showed they do empathize with the cheater's pain and don't get a kick out it.
The study was based on a control group of men and women playing a game, and suggests men are better at punishing rule-breakers. Chances are most Americans could have deduced that without a study based on common sense. The board game shown above caused its share of arguments around the A.C. household, and when such disruptions occurred the participants (all male) displayed high levels of schadenfreude.

This also easily translates to politics. There is an old saying about the nature of republicans and democrats--Republicans are the "daddy party", strong on punishment, war, low social benefits, etc, and the democrats are the "mommy party", more willing to cut slack on just about everything. That's just the ole saying, you realize.

Of course there are always exceptions, and I'm thinking of one now--Hillary. Somehow I don't believe the republicans could get away with putting her in such a box, people just wouldn't buy it. Maybe that's why she has a chance in 2008.

By the way, before you start pigeon-holing women as empathizers with evil-doers, consider this important distinction:
The researchers said women might have reacted like men if the cheater suffered psychological or financial pain instead.
Of course. "A woman scorned" never really applied to cheating at "Risk".

A demand for Vincente Fox

The Mexican government's feined indignation over the deaths of two 'undocumented migrants', AKA illegal aliens, at the hands of American authorities floats into some kind of etherial state beyond standard gall and hypocrisy:
Mexico demanded on Tuesday that Washington investigate the fatal shooting of another undocumented migrant by U.S. security agents, adding fuel to a smoldering dispute over illegal immigration
Whoa there. We know the migration issue has roots on both sides of the border, and that America needs to stop hiring illegals and start enforcing our existing laws. However, the mere mention we might start enforcing laws or stopping illegal border crossings has already sent Vincente Fox into a twisted tither. Most rational heads of state would welcome such news, at least the ones who understand the concept of a border.

So here's my proposed 'demand' to Mr. Fox:

Sir, before you make any more demands of our government, try controlling your own damn border crossings. Get off your butt and create decent jobs for your people. While you're at it, clean up the corruption within your own ranks. Do these things, el Presidente, and the problem might just get better. After that, feel free to drop by and chat. When you come, please make sure you cross at a designed point and possess the proper documentation, or you will be arrested. If you need a helpful guide, contact the INS. Thank you for your cooperation.